Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Stopped and I Shopped and then... I Ate

Since my husband and I ate out most of our week off due to the deluge in our basement, this previous week was eventful in ways I thought my Easter/Passover break would have been. First, we finished the chicken breasts we had in the house, then we finished the Ahi Tuna steaks and we ran out of eggs and milk. I felt as though a weight was lifted. When I attempted to find something to eat Friday night, I was delighted by my struggle, but Saturday morning, though, I was frustrated. I feared I would not be able to find the replacement foods I needed due to my husband's recent infection from allergies gone wild - I was going to have to shop local and alone... was I just going to end up with the same stuff?

Well, before I even blogged yesterday, I decided we needed something to make it through these days of sparse food, in case I was less than successful, so I made a HUGE batch of marinara sauce (for my family's recipe, click here). I was inspired to do so when I saw what my husband had noshed on all day when I was at work on Friday: there was evidence of cereal, chips and salsa, yogurt and then he confessed to getting a Bacon egg and cheese sandwich in the morning. I was able to trace his eating pattern by the plates strewn all over the kitchen counter, in the sink and some, woefully, in the living room. However, this was all before his allergy medicine and he was therefore miserable and delirious, so all infractions are forgiven!

I then dilly-dallied for most of the day before buckling down to get to the store. Truth be told, I feared a repeat of my last shopping attempt... Finally, at around 6:15pm, my husband dropped me off at my local Stop n' Shop, a store I am not all too familiar with, but have always liked the organic foods aisle in. My goal for the trip: buy FRESH produce, organic when possible, check out the egg situation, see if this store carries Gardein and, finally, reacquaint myself with what is available in the organic foods aisle.

One day later and, after I have eaten, I can say that I feel satisfied with my first truly conscious food shopping (EVERY SINGLE ITEM was scrutinized before I placed it in my cart), but the process itself was quite a difficult one for me to take on alone. Perhaps I bit off more than I could chew (pun intended!) for a first go . Here were my major stumbling points:

1. Stop N' Shop is not "My" Grocery Store. I know "my" grocery store (a Waldbaums, recently turned King Kullen), like the back of my hand. I know their layout, I understand the flow of the store an intention of placement of items. I have been going there for so many years, I pretty much know where, in general to find all things, even if they are not things I normally buy because I know which aisle it would be in.

2. I still have pretty bad vision. Even though potassium has been helping me out in the energy department , it did not, miraculously return my vision to normal (unfortunately). For this reason, my extra careful scrutiny of items was an agonizing process of glasses on, glasses off, reading labels, reading ingredients, looking at prices, leaning over the mountains of potatoes, lemons, nectarines, bananas, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. and deciphering: are these Organic? Some of this issues would have been solved if Stop N' Shop were "my" store - after 45 minutes in the produce section I finally discovered that organic produce has a large orange, curve sign above it (I almost wanted to cry when I saw that - there should be a grocery store KEY somewhere that tells you these things! I would have been through that section in 15 minutes!). Some of the issues would have been solved with another set of eyes!

The result of these two minor issues: the shopping trip took me a little over two hours and my organic aisle did not get the attention I had plan to give it due to (of course) a pretty damning headache that lasted until I finally fell asleep.

And yet, I still feel as though this trip was a great success. Here's why:

  • I did it! If you have been following my blog, the fact that I actually made it out to the store, is a success in and of itself. In addition, the fact that I did it on my own is also pretty damn cool (even if it did suck me dry for the night!)
  • I bought fresh (and mostly Organic). I always buy my fruit fresh, but I noticed over the years that I have been buying more and more of my vegetables frozen or canned. I don't know and/or remember what led to this transition, but so it goes. We actually have a second freezer in the basement and a full pantry. I was struck, at the end of this trip, when putting all of the items away, how I did not need to go downstairs with ONE item. The majority of my purchases went right in the refrigerator. I can't remember the last time that happened and it feels right. My freezer will still be used, of course, like tonight, when I put in all of the extra marinara sauce to be consumed at a later date.
  • I found Gardein. I thought this would be a difficult item to find, but there, at the end of the produce section, is the refrigerated case, was the product Tal Ronnen wrote about in his cookbook The Conscious Cook, that I was so curious about. It is protein, made of soy (no GMOs), but not tofu and, he claimed had a texture so similar to meat that many people he had served it to did not even know the difference. I have toyed with tofu before, so I know how arduous it can be to get the texture "right." This Gardein piqued my curiosity (Gardein's website). There were three varieties in the store, I bought one of each!
  • I learned my way around... a bit. If you spend two hours in a place, you get to know a little bit about it. I was no a complete stranger to Stop N' Shop before this trip, but I definitely feel a bit more comfortable about going back there again (and maybe next time STARTING off with the organics aisle, instead of ending off with it!).
Only time will tell if this was truly a success - can we eat the fresh food while it is still fresh? Did I buy too much for the week, or too little? What meals will come from these choices (although I had some in mind, I definitely have not planned them all out!)? Is this supermarket a viable option for healthy eating, or will I find something even better at the farmer's markets? And... the big question: Can we find the sustenance we need from these purchases considering I did not buy any meat?

Well, today was day 1, and while we did eat the chicken and the tuna steaks, there are still meat remnants in the house. Here's how our food day played out:
  • Breakfast: We both ate our respective cereals. My husband also had a yogurt which he has been taking with his antibiotic.
  • Lunch: My husband made a tuna fish sandwich and a salad. I could not resist - I had to try the Gardein (Sante Fe) with a salad. The Gardein was really, surprisingly good! I am still not completely sold on this product, as it is packaged and microwaved, but, it was delicious. I can absolutely understand how Tal Ronnen's dinner guests were fooled into thinking they were eating meat.
  • Snack: We cracked open a box of organic, no wheat, gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chunk cookies that were extra yummy!
  • Dinner: Pasta with home-made marinara sauce and ricotta.
I don;t know if this is the healthiest day of food ever, but I can, at least say that some of yesterday's purchases have already gone to work!

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